Coffin Bound wants you to know where it stands and it wastes neither time nor fat in telling you. This is a world of dismembered mannequins and animal skulls. A pastel-colored hellscape dotted and dashed with cigarette butts and sagging barbed wire fences.
A magazine titled simply—and efficiently—“PORN” lay crumpled on the floor of a dilapidated desert shack. Also on the floor: Mouse traps and mostly-melted candles and even more cigarette butts. A creature with a bird cage for a head and wooden legs introduces itself as a Vulture to a pale woman dressed in a black bra and a fishnet shirt. Men are approaching with guns. The pale girl lifts the floorboards to find her own. To do so, she has to move the PORN magazine.
Like the best stories of speculative fiction, COFFIN BOUND doesn’t care that you know what is going on, so long as it knows you care. Izzy—our pale girl in fishnets—is lithe and strange and she has a nose piercing. She’s had what is clearly an interesting life. She’s strong enough to throw a brick at a guy’s face with nigh-lethal force. You like her. You want her to succeed.
At what, you ask?
Unliving. Erasing all traces of herself and her past from the planet.
What’s that mean?
You’re not sure. Not really. But you want her to succeed. And you certainly don’t want the ugly men with guns to win, and you can’t think of a worse fate than if the beastly, dope-as-fuck looking monster thing called the Earth-Eater catches up to her.
There is a deep lore here. It will be revealed in the story’s telling, but for now, the story is simple. A girl and her Vulture in an old corvette, racing across the desert, away from their enemies. It’s enough to get behind.
Doesn’t hurt that the art is real damn good. Elements of Frank Miller pop up among smoky distances, harsh geometries and blood-soaked anatomies. No doubt, there will be those who liken Coffin Bound to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, but the comparison is shallow and unfair, likely due almost entirely to the presence of a pale goth girl wearing fishnets and an eclectic color palette. The mythology here is its own and appears wholly unique, and deserves to be explored without comparison, even if the inspiration is—aesthetically, at least—noticeable. This world, at the very least, is void of the optimistic white noise inherent in Sandman. No. Coffin Bound presents itself as bleakness upon bleakness, a sheen of dust clinging to a dead television in a burning house. But the wallpaper is pink.
The writing is lyrical and, in some places, distractingly so, but it’s always good. In fact, the dialogue often reads more like poetry than anything else, and only a few times does it swerve out of Bukowski and into high school territory. And even then, it’s forgivable. This poetry isn’t self-indulgent. It’s always dedicated to moving the story forward. The work of a writer who cares very much for the world and the people he’s writing about.
And oh, boy, the people! The characters are so wild and idiosyncratic, you can’t help falling in love with them.
You might not be sure who’s who, or what they want, or why they want it, or if this takes place on Earth or in a purely secondary world (though, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the latter, but we’ll see), but you sure can’t help but want to find out.
This has the feel of a comic that will be sticking around. There’s enough fantasy and high-concept derring-do for the lovers of such things, and just the right amount of cigarette butts and strip clubs to appeal to the adults in the room.
So, hop into this ragged old convertible with us and go check out Coffin Bound #1. You can grab #1 from the Image Comics webstore now.
Writer: Dan Waters
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar